Repay long years of sore distress–
The fragrance of a lonely flower
Make glad the wilderness?”
From Lewis Carroll’s “Solitude.” Inspiration doesn’t always come happily, like springtime flowers or light bulbs. Sometimes it rears up without warning and knocks you out cold. I experienced this firsthand today.
My dearest friend and I were walking as we like to do, and came across a small park. I had forgotten that we were on the premises of the school where he’d spent most of his childhood years. The minute we set foot on the playground, I could see the heaps of nostalgia flushing through him and instantly, he began to lead me from the swings to the monkey bars, and from there to the balancing beams and rows of large embedded tires, all while spilling out stories of games he used to play, the classmates he would interact with, and all the trouble he’d gotten into during those early years.
To see him relate all these memories to me with such enthusiasm moved me. I couldn’t help but reflect upon my own childhood. But I didn’t find anything of the sort he was describing. Instead, every cold feeling from my younger days swept through me at once; faint howls welled up inside me without warning and I found myself overcome by emotion.
These feelings haunted me for the rest of the day. I find it difficult to speak when I’m upset, so I was quiet until I got back home. I jotted down whatever words that came to mind in my pocket notebook, and even began a “prose-poem-essay,” as Ray Bradbury likes to call them. I’m still practicing this method of naked writing; as uncomfortable as it is to get started, it is incredibly rewarding. I estimate at least three poems and a short-short story coming out of this one. No doubt you’ll know them when you see them.